Francesco Molinari rediscovers form to claim share of lead

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The Italian has not had a top-three finish in a strokeplay event since March 2019.
Posted on
January 20, 2023
The Editorial Team in ,
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Francesco Molinari’s welcome resurgence gathered pace as the former Open champion claimed a share of the lead in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

A second consecutive 67 at Yas Links gave Molinari a halfway total of 10 under par matched only by compatriot Guido Migliozzi, who birdied his final three holes to return a 69.

Molinari won three times in 2018, including the Open at Carnoustie and BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, before becoming the first European player to compile a perfect 5-0 record in that year’s Ryder Cup.

Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari celebrates winning the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National after compiling a perfect 5-0 record (David Davies/PA)

The 40-year-old also held a two-shot lead with seven holes to play in the 2019 Masters before hitting his tee shot on the 12th into Rae’s Creek, and has not had a top-three finish in a strokeplay event since winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational a month earlier.

However, Molinari was unbeaten in captaining Continental Europe to victory in the Hero Cup win last week and recovered from dropping three shots in two holes to mark six birdies in an inward half of 30.

“I’m very pleased,” Molinari said. “Same score as Thursday but very different day. Many more ups and downs than yesterday. A couple of three-putts, a couple of mental errors but also lots of good stuff, a couple of long putts made.

“Obviously a very good back nine, which is nice. I think where I’m at at the moment, when you go through a tough patch, it’s nice to see that I can pick it up again.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It’s a couple of good rounds but I know, I’m aware of where I’m coming from. The game feels different. I think it looks different, too. But yeah, it’s just two rounds, so a long way to go.”

The obvious goal for Molinari this year is a fourth Ryder Cup appearance on home soil in Rome, and he admitted: “It would be incredible.

“There’s many months to go. It’s obviously nice to start the season this way. I never needed a pick for my three Ryder Cups, so it would be nice not to need a pick again this year.”

Migliozzi, who matched Molinari in winning three and a half points from his four matches in the Hero Cup, had been level par for the day until three brilliant approaches set up birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th.

“It’s been a tough day of golf,” said the 25-year-old, who won his third DP World Tour title in the French Open last September. “But I stayed focused, I tried to stay on my game because I’m feeling great on the golf course and I was just waiting for some turning point.

“I saved that beautiful par on 15, then after that I felt a bit better and I could accelerate, push on the accelerator and then beautiful golf shots came on the final three holes. Those three holes are very, very tough because the wind is hurting a lot. It was good to finish like that.

“I was watching the leaderboard and I saw the captain right there on top, Francesco Molinari. It will be a great battle over the weekend and a pleasure to play together.”

Australia’s Jason Scrivener lies a shot off the lead following a second round of 70, with former Open champion Shane Lowry among the group two strokes further back after also returning a 70.

Overnight leader and Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald fell five shots off the pace after adding a 75 to his opening 64.

Pos.PlayerThruTo ParR1R2Total
1MOLINARI, Francesco18-106767134
MIGLIOZZI, Guido18-106569134
3SCRIVENER, Jason18-96570135
4COETZEE, George18-86868136
BJÖRK, Alexander18-87165136
LEVY, Alexander18-86868136
PEREZ, Victor18-87165136
JAMIESON, Scott18-86769136
9FOX, Ryan18-77166137
MERONK, Adrian18-77067137
KAWAMURA, Masahiro18-76770137
LOWRY, Shane18-76770137
SHARMA, Shubhankar18-76770137
ROZNER, Antoine18-76968137
LEE, Min Woo18-76869137
16CABRERA BELLO, Rafa18-66969138
HØJGAARD, Nicolai18-67167138
OLESEN, Thorbjørn18-66969138
NOREN, Alex18-67266138
TARRIO, Santiago18-66969138
SÖDERBERG, Sebastian18-66771138
22MOLINARI, Edoardo18-56772139
HATTON, Tyrrell18-57267139
WIESBERGER, Bernd18-57267139
KINHULT, Marcus18-56970139
FORREST, Grant18-57168139
BRADBURY, Dan18-57267139
ELVIRA, Nacho18-57267139
LARRAZÁBAL, Pablo18-57069139
WARREN, Marc18-57267139
HUNDEBØLL, Oliver18-57267139
POWER, Seamus18-56673139
DONALD, Luke18-56475139
34DONALDSON, Jamie18-47169140
HILLIER, Daniel18-47268140
BLAND, Richard18-47169140
WHITNELL, Dale18-46872140
JORDAN, Matthew18-46971140
MACINTYRE, Robert18-47070140
PAVON, Matthieu18-47070140
FERGUSON, Ewen18-46971140
HANNA, Chase18-46872140
43SULLIVAN, Andy18-37269141
KIEFFER, Maximilian18-36972141
HARRINGTON, Padraig18-36873141
BJØRN, Thomas18-36972141
WINTHER, Jeff18-37368141
CROCKER, Sean18-37269141
VAN DRIEL, Darius18-37269141
CATLIN, John18-37071141
FLEETWOOD, Tommy18-36873141
POULTER, Ian18-37170141
OTAEGUI, Adrian18-37368141
RAMSAY, Richie18-37071141
MORRISON, James18-37170141
MCKIBBIN, Tom16-372--
57MANSELL, Richard18-27369142
WESTWOOD, Lee18-26973142
WALLACE, Matt18-27171142
STRYDOM, Ockie18-27171142
STENSON, Henrik18-26874142
ARMITAGE, Marcus18-27171142
SYME, Connor18-26874142
VÄLIMÄKI, Sami18-26775142
WU, Ashun18-27072142
LUITEN, Joost18-27369142
KIMSEY, Nathan18-27171142
JANEWATTANANOND, Jazz18-27567142
HELLIGKILDE, Marcus18-27171142
70BRUN, Julien18-17172143
HILL, Calum18-16875143
KNAPPE, Alexander18-17271143
WARING, Paul18-17370143
HIDALGO, Angel18-17073143
75LIU, Yan Wei18Par7074144
GREEN, Gavin18Par7272144
DU PLESSIS, Hennie18Par7371144
SCHOTT, Freddy18Par7173144
CAMPILLO, Jorge18Par7074144
HORSFIELD, Sam18Par7272144
WILSON, Oliver18Par7470144
VON DELLINGSHAUSEN, Nicolai18Par7272144
DE JAGER, Louis16Par73--
84HUIZING, Daan18+17570145
SMITH, Jordan18+17372145
LINDBERG, Mikael18+17669145
LAGERGREN, Joakim18+17174145
COCKERILL, Aaron18+17471145
BESSELING, Wil18+17372145
PIETERS, Thomas18+17372145
SOUTHGATE, Matthew18+17273145
KORHONEN, Mikko18+17273145
SAMOOJA, Kalle18+17075145
BEKKER, Oliver18+17372145
GAVINS, Daniel18+17471145
96LAW, David18+27274146
PULKKANEN, Tapio18+27175146
KJELDSEN, Søren18+27175146
NØRGAARD, Niklas18+27373146
100LOMBARD, Zander18+37572147
SHINKWIN, Callum18+37176147
ZANOTTI, Fabrizio18+37473147
103STRAKA, Sepp18+47573148
REED, Patrick18+47276148
COLSAERTS, Nicolas18+47573148
DANTORP, Jens18+47771148
PEPPERELL, Eddie18+47375148
RITCHIE, JC18+47276148
VEERMAN, Johannes18+47573148
SCHNEIDER, Marcel18+47474148
111GUERRIER, Julien18+57673149
ARNAUS, Adri18+57376149
KRUYSWIJK, Jacques18+57871149
FREIBURGHAUS, Jeremy18+57772149
KOFSTAD, Espen18+57574149
WANG, Jeunghun18+57574149
117FAKORI, El Mehdi (AM)18+67575150
PAUL, Yannik18+67575150
LONG, Hurly18+67872150
120DUBUISSON, Victor18+77675151
HARDING, Justin18+78071151
NEMECZ, Lukas18+77576151
123FISHER, Ross18+107876154
124LI, Haotong18+118471155
125ABOU EL ELA, Issa (AM)17+1781--
RETDLAWRENCE, Thriston10+271--
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